Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Day 62 a great season but a short one ?

The reason I pose the question in tonight's heading is that so far we have had a very good season and no doubt of that. The problem is that we are now experiencing spring skiing conditions that I would normally expect to see late March or early April. More worrying is that as I look out into the short term forecast we just seem to be getting more of the same. Thankfully the hill is in such good shape that it can take a beating like this but let there be no mistake, if we don't see a return to winter conditions in the next couple of weeks we will be in very serious trouble. In the meanwhile we have to put up with spring skiing conditions which can be challenging to put it mildly.

On my deck this morning it was -5 and when we got to the hill there was valley fog but some sun on top. The sun clouded over for most of the morning but then cleared in the afternoon to give those spring skiing conditions. Base temps got up to +3 and it was a couple of degrees warmer on top in the sun with the forecast inversion. As I drove away tonight it was +4 in the valley and I fully expect another cold night as the skies were pretty clear as I lay in my hot tub drinking beer.

The result of these conditions was that everything that softened yesterday (quite a lot of the lower hill and anything in the direct sunlight) had refrozen to boiler plate at best and ugly refrozen crud at worst. Where the snow hadn't softened yesterday (mainly on the northern facing slopes) it all stayed in pretty ok condition but tended to soften in the atmospheric warming later in the day.

I went to the Old Side to see if the Sunny Side shoulder which is always the first place to soften was any good and it was hard boiler plate. After that I just ran loops off various parts of Cedar Ridge which all skied ok as hard north facing snow and interspersing these with runs down Boom Ridge which was really good skiing with some blow in and crisp bumps taking an edge.

Later in the morning I hit out to Snake Ridge and was worried that it might be a bit icy. The risks were all the other way and the surface was softening a bit quicker than I anticipated but was still quite hard in the Gorby Gap - all very good if challenging skiing. All exits were through Kangaroo which was the only run on the hill to be skiing just as it usually does. Kangroo was hard ugly icy bumps and it is always hard ugly icy bumps so just as good as usual - I'm not being funny here as I really do enjoy the testing conditions in the Roo. The final run before lunch was Boom Ridge which was just starting to get a bit soft.

After lunch I went to the New Side and had a very mellow run down Lift Line in firm but giving conditions - possibly the best snow on the New Side. I did a couple of White Pass loops in sun softened snow before trying the Knot Chutes. The snow was very strange and the surface was sliding on an under layer, ok but a bit disconcerting. Anaconda and Bootleg Glades skied ok as north face not too badly affected snow.

We went out to Decline which skied well again as it was facing away from the sun and even the lower section was ok. Polar Peak had been open in the morning but closed due to high winds before I arrived in the afternoon. I fully expected it to be closed for the rest of the day but it reopened late afternoon. Ski Patrol had given up any pretense in their signage that there was a possibility of self arrest if you fell and just designated the chutes as no fall area. I fully agreed as although the skiing was ok it was apparent that if you took a fall there was no way of avoiding a trip all the way to the bottom. I did a couple of Papa Bear loops which were ok but in truth not really worth the risk.

Stag Leap was very ugly through the trees where the snow and ice had fallen but for the run itself it was good soft snow and even the lower pitch was getting mellow in the warming ice surfaces. Another White Pass loop and it was time for the usual Skydive rip with 3 of us there. Just like Stag Leap it was good soft bumps in the top and the lower section was best where there had been ice faces which were now softening.

On the way back from the hill temps ranged from +3 to +7 and back and the whole valley looked in a pretty poor state. The forecasters are calling for more of the same for the next two days and all we can do is hope that they are wrong.


  1. OpenSnow calling for (positive side) 56cm of snow between Thurs night and Monday Night...Lets hope THEY are right and the temps stay low..!!!

  2. My worry is that at best we will get a rain snow mix which means that the only good skiing will be in White Pass. Factor in Alberta Family week which is the busiest time of the year and you have a recipe for a real gong show